Fitchburg, MA asked in Criminal Law for Massachusetts

Q: I got caught shoplifting days after the offence,I returned the item to the police department,what should I expect?

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4 Lawyer Answers
Ryan P. Sullivan
Ryan P. Sullivan
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Auburndale, MA
  • Licensed in Massachusetts

A: There are several things to expect: 1. You can be summonsed to court for an arraignment on shoplifting charges (this could take days, weeks, or months to process); 2. You can be sent a notice of a hearing about whether a charge should issue (often called a clerks hearing or magistrate hearing); or 3. The company may pursue you in civil court.

You should consider contacting an attorney to discuss the specifics of your case. You should not post any other specifics about the case on Internet forums. Additionally, I advise all of my clients to consult with a lawyer before giving any statement (if one is given at all) which would include providing items to the police department. What has been done has been done, but I would contact an attorney before discussing the matter further or taking any other action.

Stephen Neyman Esq. agrees with this answer

Stephen Neyman Esq.
Stephen Neyman Esq.
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • North Andover, MA
  • Licensed in Massachusetts

A: You can expect to receive a summons in the mail for either a clerk magistrate hearing or for arraignment. You might also receive a civil demand letter. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is get a lawyer as soon as you can. Let me know if you have any further questions. Good luck.

Dakota Martin
Dakota Martin
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Boston, MA
  • Licensed in Massachusetts

A: you will still be charged with shoplifting.

The good news is that the dollar amount for a felony very recently increased from -over $250.00 to $1200 or $1400.

Get a lawyer and stop providing them with evidence to use against you (example- the items you returned)

Lissa McKinney
Lissa McKinney
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Acton, MA
  • Licensed in Massachusetts

A: This could go a few ways. You may be charged with either shoplifiting or larceny, depending on the value of what you took and returned. You may get a notice to appear for a hearing before a clerk-magistrate and have the opportunity to shape the charge or have it resolved there. OR you may get a notice to attend an arraignment where you would be formally accused. These are often handled with a clerk's hearing though it varies based on store policies. Some have 'take no prisoner' type policies.

You should get a lawyer involved before your arraignemnt or before the clerk's hearing if possible. If it goes to a clerks hearing be sure to show up or you will lose a valuable opportunity! You may be able to obtain a dismissal or diversion if you have no record at this level.Your return of the items will be viewd favorably too. Even if a complaint were to issue, in the worst case scenario, it would end up dismissed for a 1st offense,possibly continued without a finding, or you might be eligible to be diverted. In April the governor signed alot of new legislation so that 1st time offenders and young adults could be diverted- which means no criminal record at all. Those variations largely depend on the local court, but this is where having an experienced lawyer will matter. There are many of us on Justia that handle these all the time.

In addition, you may receive a civil demand letter, see if it is from a MA lawyer. If it is not, it is unlikely to be pursued. If it is, you should not do anything regarding it until you know what will happen on the criminal side. At this point you still have a 5th Amendment right not to incrimate yourself relative to a possible criminal proceeding, and should not respond. The issuance of the civil demand is separate from the possible criminal action. You may need that money for a lawyer, and it would be better spent that way. Most folks advise against paying the civil demand so you don't get entered into a database and have your admission for the offense follow you. In addition, the demand is illegal if it exceeds what is authorized by statute. I keep seeing demands way higher than they should be.The civil demand will not show on a criminal record or CORI because it is not criminal. Here is the law on that:

https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartIII/TitleII/Chapter231/Section85R1~2.

You should read the law completely, but here is what is says about the fines:

"The damages shall be: not more than $50 in addition to any actual damages incurred if the value of the property is less than $50; not more than $250 in addition to any actual damage incurred if the value of the property is more than $50 but less than $250; and not more than $500 in addition to any actual damages incurred if the value of the property is more than $250. "

The new criminal justice reform package that may benefit you by diversion is described here:

https://willbrownsberger.com/final-criminal-justice-package-released/

One problem is that stores share in the National Retail Theft Database as well as the FBI LERPnet system, which track retail theft. The National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association previously had separate online databases used by retailers like Macy’s, Sears etc. The FBI worked with retailers and established a comprehensive database, the Law Enforcement Retail Partnership Network, or LERPnet. Being there could impact future jobs, security clearances, and in ways we have yet to imagine, Learn from this experience. It's . It's j not worth it at all. And, stay out of the store as you are sure to be on an exclusion list now, and often they make people sign 'no trespass' papers and don't give you a copy.

Good luck!

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